The field of customer experience has exploded in popularity. It is, in my opinion, one of the fastest-growing careers in business and even government service. Many people have entered the profession at senior levels as chief customer officers or customer experience directors in the last two decades. Many more people have entered the profession at the entry-level in a variety of roles, ensuring that it continues to grow. Smart companies all across the world are still looking for individuals who can help them navigate the path to customer-centricity. These companies understand that they will go out of business if they do not have customers. They want team members who will devote their undivided attention to the customer and a lead senior executive who will take the lead in aligning the overall strategy with the needs of the customers. Public entities have found themselves creating customer service roles in their quest to increase citizen confidence and provide better services. As a result, the field of customer experience has been reshaped. It’s no longer enough to have pleasant receptionists; it’s also important to have an organizational-wide focus on the customer.
Few educational institutions in Kenya offer customer experience as a specialism or as a subject of study. At the undergraduate and graduate levels, none of our business schools offers customer experience or its equivalent as a specialization in business degrees. Even our examining body, the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), does not offer certificate or diploma-level customer experience certification courses. Customer experience has always been viewed as a part of marketing in most courses. Customer experience and its importance in corporate performance are rarely discussed in business schools. Customer experience, in my opinion, should be a required course for all business degrees and maybe all other professions. The KNEC should consider offering certifications in this area.
Because customer experience knowledge and skills are not widespread, smart businesses continue to invest heavily in training new hires and offering refresher courses to existing employees. Many companies provide in-house training programs, while others seek outside assistance with content creation and delivery. I’ve helped numerous employees build skills, knowledge, and attitudes that improve the customer experience during the last two decades. Hundreds of organizations, I suppose, have trained their employees in customer experience. Unfortunately, many others still lack even the most fundamental customer service basics. These abilities, in my opinion, should be included in every staff introduction training.
Over the last ten years, a thriving network of customer experience practitioners has emerged in Kenya. The development of a professional body dedicated to customer experience professionals has been at the forefront of this transformation. Many careers have some sort of certification gained by sitting a professional exam. It is exciting to see a group of Kenyan professionals go on the path to becoming Certified Customer Experience Professionals this year (CCXP). The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), based in Minneapolis, offers the CCXP certification, which is a well-known and respected global independent professional credential. This, in my opinion, is a positive move in the right direction. The CCXP has the potential to increase the visibility and impact of the customer experience discipline in Kenya, both in the public and private sectors.
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy